Just Out
  Past Out


Bright lights, big bity - 'gay Paree' lives on

November 10, 2003

Paris Gay Pride 2002 - photo: AFP PARIS — Ever since the high kicks of the frolicking "French Cancan" girls more than a century ago, Paris has been known as a dusk to dawn night owl's pleasureland.

With its 100-odd discotheques, cabarets and music bars, from the legendary long-legged kickers at the Moulin Rouge to today's swinger joints for sharing sex with strangers, Paris continues to exude a spirit of tolerance and open-mindedness long envied by other big cities.

"Paris has always been renowned for its great freedom. Anything is allowed: all you need is the address!" said journalist Frederic Taddei, who for five years has run a programme about the city's night-life on the cable channel Paris Premiere.

Under the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower's 20,000 tiny bulbs, the City of Light continues to cater to the nighthawk's each and every taste, making it one of the world's trendiest destinations.

In line with its reputation for naughty nights, three new up-market strip-tease clubs for the monied classes have opened up in the past two years in the better parts of Paris (Stringfellows, Pink Platinum and Larry Flynt's Hustler), offering a welcome change from venues previously confined to tawdry backrooms in the Pigalle sex-shop area or on the Saint-Denis strip.

Already said to be the world leader in swinging, a pastime once seen as the preserve of middle-aged couples whose relationships have run out of steam, Paris has added several venues to the 40-odd places where ever younger couples come to share themselves sexually.

The French authorities keep a keen eye on doings in high spots of the night scene however, and one classy club off the Champs Elysees, the 15-year-old "Baron", was recently closed down in connection with an inquiry into pimping.

On the gay scene too, diversity is key, with around 100 specialised venues, including 15 saunas and as many sex-clubs, and reportedly the sole men's-only gay bar in Europe where the birthday-suit is the dress-code "de rigueur".

Paris Gay Pride 2002 - photo: AFP The big change over the last three years on the Paris scene has been the opening of the so-called "afters" clubs -- open till noon the next day --designed for inveterate won't-go-to-bed party-goers.

Also new and very in vogue are "club-restaurants" such as the Cabaret on the chic and central Palais Royal square, as well as the Wagg and Alcazar in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres district.

Foreign celebs and local star people currently are snubbing the once legendary (place-to-be-seen) Bains Douches club, favouring instead L'Etoile and the VIP Room in the Champs Elysees area.

Royals, their aristo hangers-on and other top-rung jet-setters prefer the more select Ritz-Club and old-time favourite Castel.

A few weeks back French rock star Johnny Hallyday marked his 60th birthday year by opening a mega-size discotheque in the Montparnasse district with a view to blowing a little Ibiza-style hype into Paris.

"Nightlife in Paris and elsewhere has become an industry that inevitably has lost its generosity, soul and love of partying," said Eric Dahan, who covers nightlife for the daily newspaper Liberation.

Paris Gay Pride 2002 - photo: AFP "Not so! Paris undoubtedly has more parties on any given night than any other city," said Taddei.

Because of strict laws on cigarettes and drinks advertisements, many companies in France instead spent their ad budgets on sponsoring big private Paris parties, which are often opened to people without invites after midnight, when the celebs have gone home.

There is no longer a one-and-only "place-to-be" for trendy clubbers in Paris since the closure of Le Palace, but hip dance-floors hosting world-known DJs include Queen, Gibus, Red Light, Rex Club and Folie's Pigalle, or the 287 located just outside the city proper.

Nostalgics can still enjoy the old-time flavour of accordion music and the quirky ballroom-dance style of Le Balajo, a club open since 1936 to lovers of what the French call the "bal-musette".

And around a million people each year turn out to see the dancing girls at iconic Paris venues such as the Moulin Rouge, the Lido or the Crazy Horse, particulary popular during the Christmas and New Year period.

This end-year will see the opening of a new cabaret, the Taitbout, with the chorus headed by celebrated trans-sexual singer Marie-France, the icon of the Paris underground and onetime muse of the late singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg. –Sapa-AFP

Related stories
Hundred thousand join gay pride march in France



Search GMax
Search www

Copyright 2003 GMax.co.za | Contact Us